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Visitor No: 449681

in Lahaul Valley

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Last Updated On: 18/09/2015  
Monasteries in Lahaul  Valley
Guru  Ghantal Kardang
Shashur Tayul


This monastery is situated on a hill above the Tupchiling village at the  confluence of the rivers Chandra and Bhaga. This gompa was founded by Padma Sambhava and is more than 800 years old. The peculiar feature of  the gompa is the wooden idols as distinguished from the clay idols found  in other monasteries. The Guru Ghantal white marble head was installed  by its founder, but now the same is kept under lock and key for fear of  theft. This monastery has idols of Guru Padma Sambhava, Brijeshwari Devi  and several other lamas. On the 15th lunar day (mid June) a festival  called Ghantal was  celeberated at which the visiting lamas and Thakurs used to feast for  one day. The festival is no longer celeberated.

There is one blackstone statue of a goddess identified as kali in  the innermost chamber  which gives credence to the theory that this was once a Hindu temple  like the Trilokinath temple at Udaipur.

The wall paintings are in stone colours. Because of lack of care colours  have washed away. There is lot of seepage in the monastery. Another  reason for lack of care is that most of the valuables have been  transported to the Tupchiling gompa which is easily accessible and the  caretaker also hails from this village only. The workmanship in the  gompa is certainly superior to all other gompas.


Sha-shur in the local  parlance means in the blue  pines. This is very apt as good patches of blue pine can still be  seen around the monastery.

This gompa was founded in the 17th C. AD by Lama Deva Gyatsho of  Zangskar who was a missionary of Nawang Namgyal, the king of Bhutan. The  lamas of the gompa are of the Drugpa sect (red hat sect). Namgyal  founded this sect and the name originated from Dug which  in the Bhoti language means Bhutan. Before Deva Gyatsho renovated the  present monastery, there existed a small gompa. Deva Gyatsho stayed at  the monastery till his death. When he was being cremated, this is said,  his heart did not burn and was enclosed in a black image of Gyatsho. A  statue of Namgyal is also present in the gompa.

This gompa has the biggest Thanka paintings, over fifteen feet, and  invalueable wall paintings depicting all the 84 siddhas of Buddhism. In  the month of June/July Chham is performed in the monastery which is the  most popular Chham in  Lahaul.


Village Kardang which was once the capital of Lahaul has the most  popular and the biggest monastery of the area. The monastery is situated  on the left bank of the river Bhaga just above the village of Kardang.  This was founded about 900 years ago and stood in ruins uptill 1912 when  Lama Norbu of Kardang renovated it. This gompa is located against the  backdrop of the bare mountains of the Rangcha massif which "rises above  the valley like a giant cobra standing on its tail with hood outspread,  ready to strike". The monastery is perched on a ridge below the 15000  feet high Rangcha peak. The valley is so placed that Kardang gets  maximum sunshine in winters.

This monastery houses the largest number of lamas and chomos. The  library of the gompa is one of the biggest containing full volumes of Kangyur and Tangyur.  Since the monastery belongs to the Red Hat sect the regimen is not very  strict. Nuns and monks enjoy equality. Lamas can marry and generally  they stay with their families during summers to work in the fields. In  winters they return to the gompa for meditation.

In the vicinity of the monastery is a silver coated Chhorten.  The walls of the gompa are decorated with colourful wall paintings. The  influence of Lama Gozzangwa is easily perceptible in the monastery as  one can see a number of tantrik paintings and statues depicting a male  and a female engaged in ecstatic union. The bhandarhas  a large store of musical instruments, dresses, thankas and other such  articles.

Its founder Lama Norbu died in 1952 and his mortal remains as also his  silver Chaitya/stupa are  preserved in the gompa.

In the Kardang village one can visit another small gompa of Lama  Gozzangwa and outside the gompa can see rock carvings and two big  Chhortens.

This gompa above the village of Satingri  has the biggest statue of Padma Sambhava and his two manifestations as Singhmukha and Vajravarahi.  The statue is 12 feet tall. This gompa houses full library of Kangyur.  Thankas in the gompa depict various episodes from the life of Lord  Buddha.

Tayul gompa written in Tibetan as Ta - Yul means  chosen place. It is one of the oldest Dugpa sect monasteries in Lahaul.  One Dugpa lama, Serzang Rinchen of Khan region of Tibet, founded this  monastery in the beginning of the 17th C. There is a story about how  this place was chosen for construction of a monastery. Lama Serzang  while making the meritorious circumambulation of the holy peak Drilburi  spotted a small glade in the juniper forest above Kyor and Tashikyang  villages on the opposite side of the valley. He then told his fellow  pilgrims, "Look, over there, that is a suitable and auspicious place for  a gompa". Thus the building of the gompa began to take shape. This  monastery houses a hundred million mani wheel  by  turning which the minds of the sentient beings open to the compassion of  the Lord. This mani wheel is reputed to be "self turning" on auspicious  occasions. According to the lamas this wheel last turned on its own in  1986.

After almost a century a Ladakhi Tulku Tashi Tanphel of Tagna monastery  renovated and extended the building of this gompa. He decorated the  walls with murals, made stucco images of giant size referred to above  and brought in the Narthang edition of the Kangyur from Tibet.
This hamlet is situated at a distance of  18 kms from Keylong. It has a gompa where in the month of July devil  dance  is enacted by the Lamas. The Thakurs of Gushal are now  settled in this village on the right bank of the river Chandra. The  place is easily accessible as it is on the Manali-Leh national highway.
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